Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Jesus explains the Atonement

Many analogies are used to explain the Atonement of Calvary, but what could be better than an illustration that Jesus Himself had used? Well here it is!

Jesus states: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15)

What is Jesus referencing?

Numbers 21:6-9: “The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.’ And Moses interceded for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.’ And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.”

4-Point Calvinist, Ron Rhodes, explains: “John 3:16 cannot be divorced from verses 14-15, wherein Christ alludes to Numbers 21 with its discussion of Moses setting up the brazen serpent in the camp of Israel, so that if ‘any man’ looked to it, he experienced physical deliverance. In verse 15 Christ applies the story spiritually when He says that ‘whosoever’ believes on the uplifted Son of Man shall experience spiritual deliverance.” (The Extent of the Atonement: Limited Atonement Versus Unlimited Atonement)

Question: For whom was the fiery serpent, set on a “standard” erected?

Answer: For those who were “bitten.” This answers the question of, "For whom did Christ die?" It is for everyone who has been bitten by sin. Therefore, just as “if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived,” so too, if sin has bitten any man, and it has bitten every man, if he looks to the Cross of Christ, he will spiritually live.

Calvinist, D. James Kennedy writes: Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, writes: “Our faith and our repentance are the work of God’s grace in our hearts. Our contribution is simply the sin for which Jesus Christ suffered and died. Would you be born anew? There has never been a person who sought for that who did not find it. Even the seeking is created by the Spirit of God. Would you know that new life? Are you tired of the emptiness and purposelessness of your life? Are you tired of the filthy rags of your own righteousness? Would you trust in someone else other than yourself? Then look to the cross of Christ. Place your trust in him. Ask him to come in and be born in you today. For Jesus came into the world from glory to give us second birth because we must--we MUST--be born again.” (Why I Believe, p.140, emphasis mine)

There are no two Calvinists that I respect more than Ron Rhodes (author of Reasoning From the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses) and D. James Kennedy, (author of Evangelism Explosion).